Growing up, Yaniv Attar studied the Holocaust. But he didn’t really learn much about music created in the concentration camps until he attended McGill University, where he came across a book about the conductor of the Women’s Orchestra of Auschwitz.
That got him interested, and he discovered “amazing” music that he fell in love with. So he decided to program a concert featuring it, said Attar, a native of Israel.
The Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra will perform “Voices of the Silenced” at 3 p.m. Sunday at Esber Recital Hall.
The concert will feature “Overture for Small Orchestra” by Hans Krasa; Felix Mendelssohn’s “Concerto for Violin and Piano,” with soloists James Lyon, violinist, and Timothy Shafer, pianist; “By the Rivers of Babylon,” a piece written for PCO by Israeli composer Eliezer Elper; and Erwin Schulhoff’s “Symphony No. 2.”
Krasa’s overture was written in 1943 while he was prisoner at Terezin concentration camp. Mendelssohn’s music was banned in Nazi Germany. Elper’s father survived the Holocaust. Schulhoff wrote his symphony before he was sent to Wulzburg concentration camp.
“This concert is some of the most inspiring and uplifting music that you can imagine. ... It shows the strength and the power of the human spirit and how it triumphs through dark times to bring out so much beauty,” said Attar, PCO’s music director.
The concert has a “jazzy” and “funky” feel to it, he said. The piece by Schulhoff (nicknamed “Gershwin of Europe”) has a saxophone and banjo.
It’s a meaningful and educational concert, said PCO Executive Director Susan Kroeker, who’s played flute for the chamber orchestra since its inception in 1991.
As a way to connect with the community, PCO sponsored an essay contest for area students on the theme of “The Arts Under Oppression,” Kroeker said. The winner’s essay will be published in the concert program.
Attar said he chose the pieces for the concert not because of their connection to the Holocaust, but because each one is a great piece of music.
“They were silenced then,” he said. “I see it as my duty to bring those voices to life because I think those are wonderful voices and they deserve the attention of (the) stage.”
IF YOU GO
- What: The Pennsylvania Centre Orchestra’s “Voices of the Silenced”
- When: 3 p.m. April 30
- Where: Esber Recital Hall, Music Building I, University Park
- Info: www.centreorchestra .org